Hi! This is my new blog with tips for visitors to Las Vegas that I've picked up on my many trips there, written as a frequent visitor for new or frequent visitors. I learn something new every time I go, so hopefully sharing some of my discoveries will help some of my friends, old and new, who decide to take the plunge and head out for Sin City. I'll include some of my thoughts on game strategy as well.
We'll start by pretending you're new to visiting casino towns and ask this question, which will serve you as well if you're visiting any casino, near your home or far away:
Q: What is the first thing you should do when you visit a new casino for the first time!
A: Find their Players Club and get yourself a player's card! Players clubs may go by many names in different casinos but if you ask the first casino employee you see for directions to the player's club, they'll let you know where it is. When you sign up for a player's card, be sure to give them your e-mail and mailing addresses as well.
Then, be sure to insert the card into a machine every time you play slots or video poker, or to the dealer every time you sit down at a table game and buy in. Why?
Well, first, because the casino will track all of your play and reward you with points and comps. And second, because many casinos will reward first-time signups with such goodies as free slot play, match play for table games, gifts, free or discounted buffets and shows, and the like.
If you've never tried this, you'd be amazed how well it can work. On one of my first visits to downtown Vegas, I signed up for the player's card at Binion's. I'm not even sure I played any games or machines there, just signed up for the card. The next thing you know (well, the next January, to be precise), they're mailing me an offer for three free nights at their hotel.
On my first visit to the Wynn after it opened, I found the table limits a little too high for my taste, so I put a few bucks in a penny. To my delight and surprise, I hit a $30 jackpot. I was so excited I tipped the cocktail waitress five bucks for bringing me an orange juice. That was the extent of my interaction with the Wynn. A year or two later, I get an e-mail from the Wynn offering me a free hotel night and $100 in slot play! I went there with a friend for our joint birthdays, and not only was the room, overlooking the waterfall on the Wynn golf course, to-die-for fancy and comfy, but we made $478 cash back on the free slot play, so they basically paid us to stay there.
I visited the Cosmopolitan once, played one session of blackjack for a $100 buy-in and left a little ahead. A couple of years later, I'm checking my e-mail in my hotel while visiting Vegas, and danged if the Cosmo isn't offering me two free nights there. So hello to two extra nights before we leave town. And if you thought the rooms at the Wynn were nice...Wow. If you can get one of the rooms with a private terrace overlooking the Bellagio fountain show...I'm just sayin'.
So, always get the player's card, and use it every time you play. Or elsewhere in the casino and the accompanying hotel: It may get you discounts in the restaurants and shops. It may even turn out you've earned enough points to get your meal for free or pick up a little item at the shops for nothing or next to it.
In fact, if you've sat at a table game for at least an hour, before you leave, ask your dealer if you can speak to the pit boss, and ask if you can get a comp. They'll often give you a voucher for a free meal at the buffet or restaurant, especially if you're a cute young couple or a great tipper. If you consider yourself a high roller you can press your luck and ask for show tickets or even a room.
Another thing about player's cards: Many casinos now have kiosks where you can scan your card and find out what promotions and drawings you're eligible for. Always remember to scan your card when you visit. You may have earned a free meal, free promotional chips (you can't cash them in but you can put them down on a table and keep the money you win), match play, gifts, drawing entries, and what have you.
Case in point: My buddy Brian and I visited Jerry's Nugget in North Las Vegas in November. In December, we dropped by again, and Brian decided to scan his card in their kiosk to see what kind of points he had. This greeting suddenly popped up on the screen: "Welcome Back, New Member! Here's $20 cash for coming back to see us!"
There's a lesson for all of us. Always use your card, because the casinos want good customers like you to keep coming back.